Kneeling during the national anthem

Recently, I learned that a 49ers cheerleader took a knee during the national anthem before the Raiders game. The cheerleader is from the same team Colin Kaepernick was once on. The cheerleader has not spoken publicly.

And she doesn't have to. It's not a huge deal that people want to kneel during the national anthem to protest. Having the national anthem being played before any sports game is unnecessary in the first place, in my opinion. There is absolutely nothing patriotic about playing sports and there is no reason why we should honor America before watching athletes literally run into the opposite team on the field, trying to destroy each other. So if someone wants to use the national anthem as a way of protest, and a way of attracting attention for a cause he or she actually cares about, so be it.

Don't get me wrong, I love America and I am patriotic when the time calls for it. For example, on holidays such as the Fourth of July and Memorial Day are times when I am truly thankful to be an American, and especially as a journalist I am thankful to have the freedom of speech and press. I am happy that we have the freedom of religion and many other rights. Even in history class learning about everything our founding fathers did to start our country, and learning about the wars it took to gain our independence, it is at those times when I am proud to be an American and I do my part to reflect and be patriotic. Our country is definitely something to be proud of. The minutes before sports games, however, I feel are not the time to honor our country. No other country in the world does this tradition.

It is almost ironic, because as someone who has played the flute in the band for more than a decade, I am often the one playing the national anthem before a sports game. Football, basketball and volleyball games are all sports I've played the anthem at. And if someone were to take a knee during that song while I was playing it, I would not feel offended. The same applies if I were not playing it and I simply observed someone knee during the song being played in some other way. I would not think of it as a huge deal. I don't see why people should think otherwise. The flag gave us the freedom to speak out and allow people to do something like take a knee during the anthem. It might be ironic because the cheerleader is disrespecting the one thing that brought her that freedom of speech, but still, she is free to do what she wants now even if it means others disagree.

If this cheerleader and others who refuse to stand during the anthem truly believe that the United States is not living up to its ideals of freedom, liberty and justice for all, then their disrespect towards the flag is appropriate and justified. The protest is also peaceful and is not directly causing anyone harm. Some people might be shocked seeing that cheerleader kneel, but at least it makes them pay attention and it sparks thought. This creates a dialogue and contributes to future acts of free speech.